Wholly true but not wholly blameless. That’s what I’m picking up from what’s being laid down through King Asa’s story (2 Chronicles 14-16).
Faithful at first, foolish at the finish. Adoring God in the early years, angry with God in the latter. Started well, finished not so well. That’s kind of Asa’s legacy.
At the beginning of his reign, Asa is seeking the LORD, relying on the LORD, and cleaning house of detestable idols for the LORD. Three-and-a-half decades later, he doesn’t need the LORD, refuses to listen to LORD, won’t even turn to the LORD when it comes to fighting a life-threatening disease.
What happened? I don’t know for sure. It seems that perhaps the prosperity and peace that came from a heart that was “wholly true all his days” (2Ch. 15:7) lulled his heart into becoming a heart that eventually wholly depended on himself. While he was diligent in eliminating idol worship in Judah, he was less aware of the self-worship that was forming within his heart.
But as I chew on Asa’s story this morning, I’m not so sure that figuring out the “why it happened” is as important as knowing that it can happen. That starting well isn’t a guarantee of finishing well. That dealing with one type of sin isn’t necessarily protection against another type of sin. That confronting idolatry is different than combating self-sufficiency. That, in a sense, it’s not enough to have a heart which is “wholly true” but one that is wholly His.
“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is [whole] toward Him.”
(2Chronicles 16:9a ESV)
Although the main text of the ESV says God’s looking for a “blameless heart”, I’m going with the rendering in the margin on this one. That God’s looking for a whole heart. Or, as the CSB puts it, hearts which “are completely His.”
Asa got a lot of stuff right during his life because he took a fierce stance against idolatry. But at the end of his reign, when he had enough resources to pay his way out of trouble rather than pray his way out of trouble (2Ch. 16:1-7), he refused the word of the LORD, got angry with God’s prophet, and “inflicted cruelties” on some of God’s people (2Ch. 16:10). While he had given God all of part of his heart in the beginning, at the end he wasn’t as committed to giving God all of his whole heart. But the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth looking for those whose heart is whole toward Him.
Scripture would indicate that the old man is always vying for control of the heart. I’m thinking the enemy knows that and will concede 9/10th’s to the Spirit if he can exploit the 1/10th retained by the flesh.
But thank God for the cross and the finished work of Christ. Sufficient enough to atone for our failures when our heart is less than whole toward Him. Able enough to release the grip of the flesh on every area of the heart. Powerful enough to bring redemption’s work to completion, so that what began well will finish well.
Only by His grace. Always for His glory.